From its opening moments Wednesday, Texas dominated the 50th annual Country Music Association Awards.
A star-studded medley kicked off the three-hour broadcast, with a cameo from North Texas resident Charley Pride (singing his hit Kiss an Angel Good Morning) and a poignant appearance from another North Texan, Randy Travis, who sang for the first time since suffering a debilitating stroke three years ago.
The undeniable high point, which nearly broke the Internet, was Beyonce joining forces with the Dixie Chicks for a scorching take on the former’s Daddy Lessons, complete with an interpolation of the Chicks’ Long Time Gone (a sly acknowledgment of the trio’s lengthy absence from the country music scene)
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An early highlight was Arlington native Maren Morris’ soulful, daring rendition of her hit My Church, which featured cameos from the McCrary Sisters and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. That turn was quickly followed by the singer-songwriter’s win in the category of new artist of the year (Morris was nominated five times overall).
“Y’all — I can’t win this right after performing, I’ll fall apart,” said a deeply emotional Morris. “This is so crazy — I have amazing seats tonight. Last year, I sat across the street at a bar and watched this show. I never thought as a songwriter, I’d be standing here today. My songwriting community here in Nashville — you gave me the courage to do this. My mom and dad are here tonight; thank you so much — you have supported me since I was 11. Thank y’all so much; I appreciate it.”
Other notable Texan appearances included Miranda Lambert, who showcased her new single, Vice, as well as Matthew McConaughey, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves and Arlington-formed Pentatonix, the latter two helping pay tribute to Dolly Parton.